ARSA, Industry Allies Call for Correction to “Untenable” Parts Documentation Guidance
Editor’s Note: To see all of ARSA’s work on the MAG, visit arsa.org/mag
On June 10, seven trade associations and four aerospace companies – led by ARSA – requested the directors of flight standards for the FAA and EASA revise guidance on international parts documentation.
Since last September, the association and its allies have worked to help the agencies correct regulatory issues created by the 2015 revision of the Maintenance Annex Guidance (“MAG Change 5”) to the U.S.-EU Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA).
The nine-month-long effort deals with the requirement that U.S. Production Approval Holders (PAH) issue FAA Form 8130-3 with all new parts for which a dual maintenance release will be issued. The privilege to issue that form was created in Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 21.137(o) last October. Since that time, the FAA and EASA have issued two extensions to give both the FAA and industry time to comply. The most-recent extension was announced to ARSA in a letter dated April 14, 2016 and distributed to FAA personnel in Notice 8900.360.
Unfortunately, the extensions include a note indicating parts released by a PAH prior to Oct. 1, 2016 will remain suitable for installation on EU articles only if they have appropriately-dated documentation from the PAH containing the same technical information as an FAA Form 8130-3. That “requirement” is problematic for a host of reasons. Many articles – especially older parts – do not have dated documentation, and even fewer are from or by a PAH. Although an article’s packaging and associated documentation can identify the source, they will not have the same information as an FAA Form 8130-3. Furthermore, documents (such as certificates of conformance, airline certifications, shipping tickets, invoices, etc.) or identification markings are used to provide evidence that a part is eligible for installation. Under the extensions this information will no longer be sufficient unless it is issued by or from the PAH.
The coalition requested the agencies issue another letter and revise Notice 8900.360 to remove the dated documentation requirement for articles released from a PAH prior to Oct. 1, 2016. As is the current requirement, all new parts must be accompanied by acceptable evidence of airworthiness that meet the regulations for record keeping at the time of production and/or sale.
“The central issue is to help the FAA and EASA rely on their already-dependable systems for ensuring airworthiness,” said Marshall S. Filler, ARSA’s managing director and general counsel, who has been the industry’s point person on the issue since MAG Change 5 was signed last fall. “Regardless of the documentation that accompanies a part, it is subject to a robust quality system and careful regulatory oversight. Therefore, it’s perfectly reasonable to grandfather the parts released by a PAH prior to Oct. 1, 2016 and we greatly appreciate the agencies’ granting another six-month extension. However, the grandfathered conditions should not be so burdensome that they exclude large numbers of airworthy articles.”
The letter’s delivery coincided with the beginning of the Annual International Safety Conference, co-hosted by the FAA and EASA and featuring Filler in a plenary discussion on bilateral agreements. As industry representatives and regulators convene in Washington from June 14-16, those representing U.S. parts manufacturers have the perfect pulpit from which to pursue sensible oversight.
“This letter is part of an ongoing effort specific to the Form 8130-3 requirement,” Filler continued, noting his participation alongside representatives from the FAA, EASA and industry during the conference. “More importantly, though, it is the perfect example of hurdles that must be overcome to truly realize the benefits of bilateral relationships. When our governments sign these [bilateral aviation safety] agreements, they are endorsing the principle that each other’s technically equivalent systems will be mutually accepted. In the absence of a compelling safety justification, that should mean simpler compliance and reduced economic burdens — not the opposite. I’m glad we can discuss it this week [during the conference], but I’m determined that the parts documentation issue serve as an example of how easily things can get off track.”
Since the 2015 change to the MAG was issued, a new revision – the sixth – has been signed. Although an improvement over its predecessor, “MAG Change 6” did not resolve all the issues and perpetuated many of the problems in the agencies’ April 14th letter.
In addition to ARSA, the letter was signed by representatives from: the Aerospace Industries Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, Airlines for America, the Aviation Suppliers Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association, MOOG Aircraft Group, Honeywell Aerospace, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation and the Boeing Company.
To download a copy of the letter, click here.
Visit ARSA’s website for more information on parts documentation requirements (arsa.org/production-certificates), the International Safety Conference (arsa.org/faa-easa-conference) and the fifth and sixth revisions to the U.S.-EU MAG (arsa.org/mag).